Bows and ribbons are synonymous with holiday celebrations and presents, and they can get expensive if you need to purchase more than one. The great news is, you don’t have to go broke to have a litany of perfectly wrapped presents under your tree or on your birthday table this year. Instead, break out your ribbon collection and grab a few of your favorite spools. From gift wrapping to crafts to hair accessories, everything looks better with a bow.
Before you build your first bow, you need to decide its destination. For instance, if you are making one for a present, you want it to match the wrapping paper. On the other hand, if you are using the ribbon as decoration on a dress, you need it to match the texture of the garment.
Now that you have an idea of what you want to make, consider the best material for the job. You can use any type of fabric to make bows, but like most things, a high-quality ribbon will give you better results. Satin is the norm for bows, but for beginners, it can be slippery and actually make it harder to learn. Grosgrain, velvet, and cotton are a little easier to practice with. Unsure of whether or not your ribbon can be used to make a bow? If it can hold a tight knot, it can hold a bow.
Keep in mind that your ribbon needs to be long enough to form a bow. You should aim to have at least three times more ribbon than the length of the final bow. As a beginner, it is always better to have extra ribbon anyhow, because you can always cut off the loose ends.
Now it is time to form the basic shape of the bow. Grab the two tail ends and cross them over the middle of the bow so that you have two rabbit ears and tails hanging in an ‘x’ shape. While doing this, check your proportions. The loops should be symmetrical, and the tails need to be an even length. If they are off, rearrange the layout so everything is matches neatly.
Press together the two parts of the ribbon that form the left loop. Then, bunch together the right loop and slowly fold the left loop over the top of the right loop like you are tying a shoelace. Swing it around the back and bring it back out the center to form the knot. Pull the knot snug so that you end with a basic knot.
Now, sit back and take a look at your ribbon. You should have two even loops on each side. If they are not symmetrical, loosen the knot and pull out the too-short side a bit. You can do the same to even the lengths of your ties. Viola! You have completed your very first bow in just a few minutes.
Now that you have knocked out a basic bow, try out a wire-bound variety. This style has a more impressive finish and is great to use on floral arrangements, party decorations, or presents. It also makes an excellent accent on Christmas decorations if you want to save some money on home decor this year.
Once again, lay out your two ribbons and form two even bunny ears. Even up each side and make sure that you have two long tails. Once you form the shape, place the finger of your non-dominant hand on the center to keep the tails firmly in place.
Wrap some simple floral wire around the middle, or the "neck," of the bow. Now, wrap a piece of ribbon that matches your original ribbon or use another piece of the same ribbon to conceal the wire. You can either hot glue the ribbon around the wire in a closed loop, or toss a few quick stitches in to hold it in place.
Now that the wire is forming the neck of your bow, pull out your ends and adjust both loops to make sure they are even. You will notice the fabric bunching a bit around the tie, so you want to pull the ribbon to accentuate the natural shape of your bow. Even if your ties are the perfect length, it is a good idea to cut them to prevent the ribbon from fraying. For a more impressive finish, cut your ties at an angle to create the perfect shape when your bow is hanging flat.